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Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Sorrows is an impetus for New Theatre troupe
Preview by Kevin Johnson

Melissa Almaguer and Randy Garcia
Deep in the bowels of North Miami, someone is rehearsing a play - in a warehouse of all places.

In this warehouse, there is nothing but unfinished paint, dirty curtains, a kitchenette and scattered tables and chairs. A black cat slinks across the floor, trying to be unnoticed.

Past the dirty curtains is another room where Jesus Quintero speaks to an actor. His technical director is in the booth working on cues. Quintero is taking his actor through his paces while telling his tech director where to place the lights.

Quintero seems quite at home in this warehouse. It may be an unusual spot to present a play, but this is where his adaptation of The Sorrows of Young Werther will be presented for the next four weeks.

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Jesus Quintero came to the States five years ago after performing in other parts of the world. He actually comes from a family of lawyers. "Even though I studied law and philosophy, I came to the decision that I didn't want to follow the family tradition." So, instead, he studied theatre abroad where he learned the classics including Shakespeare.

When he arrived on U.S. soil, Jesus received quite a shock, "I didn't realize that what I could do in Colombia, I couldn't do here. That me doing Shakespeare was very uncommon." While in school in New York, he had a chance meeting with the founders of The Playground Theatre, a children's theatre company based in Miami. He moved to Miami, becoming a member of their repertory.

"(The Playground Theatre) was a great place to work, but you always need your own space, to develop your own expression of what you want to say." Along with some other members of Playground, the Jesus Quintero Studio was formed to present their own interpretations of theatre.

The Studio started by doing workshop productions of familiar pieces including The House of Bernarda Alba in Spanish, Richard III, even going so far by doing Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton literally in Quintero's backyard. The Sorrows of Young Werther will be the Studio's full-fledged inauguration into the Southeast Florida theatre community.

Created from the novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Young Werther focuses on the relationship between an artist and a married couple that he befriends. He falls in love with the wife, but cannot bear to break them up just to fulfill his selfish needs. His love turns to obsession, which turns deadly.

Quintero explains that Young Werther asks the question, what is love? "In the name of good things, people are doing a lot of damage. How much damage is one willing to do in the name of love?"

To find the feeling of being underground, Quintero wanted a basement setting for Young Werther. Thus came the idea of setting it in a warehouse. For being an important book in Quintero's life, he takes this production very seriously. "We're not trying to be the author, because that won't make sense. We're telling the story of the book, but its how we're telling the story that will be interesting."

Included in this production will be multimedia and an ensemble whose physical presence will carry the piece. Quintero also has actors learning different languages to add color: "There's one learning German, another will have Spanish, there's also some Portuguese. We're going to make people think when they leave."

The Studio's modus operandi is to bring theatre to the audience as opposed to searching for people to approach them. Quintero hopes to find other unconventional spaces, but it depends on the material he wants to present. "We're hoping to do theatre in the street, theatre in a corner, anywhere we can bring theatre to an audience."

The players in the Jesus Quintero Studio are people who come from all walks of life. From experienced actors to beginning actors, all are of one accord to present what Quintero calls "community theatre in a sense where we do everything together."

Quintero hopes that his methods will take the Studio to new heights and Young Werther is his mark to make a first good impression. He knows that he is in a risky business, but Quintero remains optimistic. "We know this is our beginning and we hope people will come and see it."

The Jesus Quintero Studio's production of The Sorrows of Young Werther begins February 8th and will run until March 1st at M & S Productions, 1415 NE 129th Street, North Miami. For more information, please call 786-853-3915 or visit

The Jesus Quintero Studio - The Sorrows of Young Werther
Adapted from a novel by J.W. von Goethe

Featuring Melissa Almaguer, E. Garcia, Carolina Fonseca, Thomas Fonseca, Jeff Keogh, Randy Garcia, and Francesca Toledo

Artistic Design: Gary Lund
Assistant Designer: Sevim Abaza
Directed by Jesus Quintero

Photo: Jesus Quintero

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